In need of some advice(6 Posts)
Hi, I'm in need of some advice from others who are familiar with my sort of situation. I'm a step mum to a very sweet and loving 5 nearly six year old boy. I've been with his mum for three and a half years and we got married last summer. She is without doubt the love of my life, and he is a very intelligent and loving boy. However we have had quite a few issues since I came on the scene. Shortly after we got together my wife's father became ill with cancer and died the summer before we got married. We were in a long distance relationship for the first two years, with me arriving every weekend and then disappearing again for the week. I made the common error of arriving with toys and treats. This combination we believe destabilised our boy just as he was starting school and he had a really rough time with terrible behaviour which culminated in him being taken out of mainstream school for a while. By this time we were living together and it resulted in me taking a significant amount of time off work in order to look after him whilst we were waiting to get him into a different school. So already I feel responsible for his hard time but also begrudge the fact that I was not at work whilst my partner, his mother was. We are both health care professionals but it was easier in the role I was in for me to take this time out.
Subsequently we have moved 400 miles for my partner to take up a promotion, and the only job I could get was part time, so I spend half my week doing the school run, feeding, shopping, cooking etc. Which I am also aware that my wife would love to do, hence adding to guilt that it frustrates me sometimes.
Having read quite a bit on step parenting I am acutely aware that I am lucky in so many ways to have a little boy around me who can be so amazing and loving and after some help with his initial behaviour problems is for the most part well behaved.
My main difficultly is that I have assumed the disciplinarian role, as my wife and I parent naturally very differently and have had to work very hard to get on the same page-ish. I am also quite a sensitive person and because this is my second serious relationship and there is this little boy around I just sometimes have this overwhelming feeling that I will never have anyone that puts me first above all else. I realise this is completely selfish but it also makes me sad, I think the advantage of a marriage or relationship before children is that you have that bond before the real love of your life (i. e. your child) comes along. Is this something others have been able to work around?
I know that I could have a really fantastic relationship with our little man, but I do struggle sometimes; today he said his mum and the dogs were number 1 and I was number 3 in front of company, which stung a bit and resulted in me sulking. I realise this is not helpful but sometimes I feel that a reassuring hug or kiss from my wife would solve that situation, instead when I raised with her that it had upset me, I got a 'well are you surprised?' referring to the fact that I tend to discipline him.
Anyway, I'm sorry for the ramble but I guess I'm reaching out for some advice or reassurance or even an opinion that steers me in the right direction.
Thanks for taking the time to read, please help if you can!
I don't want to read and run. I also think you may get an absolute slating from some on here so be prepared for the flak.
Does this little boy see his dad at all? Do you and his mum have time on your own?
I don't think you can be solely to blame by the bringing of toys and sweets for causing his behavioural issues, don't forget he's only little, he's had his mum and dad separate (or dad not being around at all), he's lost his granddad which I assume he would have been close to, he's had you appearing and taking up his mum's attention plus he's had to make the transition from nursery to school. All in a very short space of time.
So stop blaming yourself. You also need to remember that anyone with kids finds themselves down the pecking order. It's life. I live with my dp, my dd2 (oldest has just left home) and four cats. If you ask dp he will tell you he is last on the list behind the cats! But he knows he's not, he just knows that my time and attention is spread thinly between everyone.
I think you should use this time with your sds to bond with him. Find something to do a couple of days a week after school, park, milkshakes in the local cafe, baking, making something. Something that just you two do.
You will all settle eventually. Dp and I have been living together nearly 5 years and it's been rocky at times. Different discipline ideas, different ideas on what is good parenting, four kids (2 each) all with their own issues but we got there.
Your wife obviously loves you. She certainly wouldn't have married you nor let you have sole charge of her son when she is at work. You must be doing something right. And let me tell you, if you are a good parent to that child, she will love you all the more for it.
Just give it some time. Blended families are not instantly made. They can take a long time to sort out.
Thank you so much for your comment and honesty. There is no dad, she was in a same sex relationship before with an anonymous donor to create him. Or as he knows it a very kind man who helped make him. His mum and her partner (female) did separate, but quite early on. Not suggesting thought that it wouldn't have affected him. We've had a hectic few years but now are settled in our new house/school/work. He wasn't particularly close to his grandad but was more affected I think by the sadness that my wife felt about it all (complicated back story too long to go into here) and she was on her own with me arriving every so often at that stage.
We now try and have a date night once a month, and obviously have time together once the little guy is in bed.
I will take on board what you have said, thank you.
I think the issue is that it is the boy who must be quite confused with the whole situation. At 5, he's got to take in that his biological father (whatever that means to him) is a kind man, that his mum was with a lady (even if he doesn't remember, there must have some bond there), then his mum becomes his main parent before that role being shifted to you whilst moving miles apart.
I think his words about you being number 3 is nothing more than him expressing his confusion with this set up. You say he is 5, so could it be that he has started to be exposed to learning about family dynamics at school, resulting in questions and trying to understand when he stands in your set up.
I'm sure there is more to the situation, your wife's job that might be taking a lot of her time, but there could be a question about her dedication to her role as a mum when she seems quite easily comfortable with you taking on the main carer role. What would she have done if you hadn't come in her life, or came with a demanding career?
Could it be that you feel a bit used when some things are said/done and you feel a bit emotional? Is this where the 'wishing I received more attention' come from? Do you feel that you should be more appreciated for the fact that you have taken on a role that allows her a freedom that maybe you also wish you had? Is there a small element of resentment because she's got it all, her career, a husband that allows her to do so, and a child who despite not being his main carer, still puts her at the top of his affection?
I think if you asked him he would place himself at number 1. Then his mum and then you.
If I asked my DD2 (who is 11) about who was most important in the house she would say her, then the cats, then me and then dp. And then possibly her older sister who is living away from home now. But really, kids see things so very differently from adults.
If you tell him that he is the most important person in your life, he may like that or he may question it. He may ask what about mum? You could say both of them are equally as important but you love them both in different ways.
He's 5. He's making sense of a world that has been confusing for him. He has not had a traditional nuclear family and so he may see himself as being 'different'.
Please, just give it time, give them both lots of love, talk to your wife, explain you feel undervalued. She may not realise how you feel. But you also both need to agree on what is acceptable behaviour and how you deal with that from your ds.
Please try not to worry too much about the order thing. My 3yo DD's favourite "person" right now is Bonny - MIL's rabbit. Second to that is MIL, because she has the rabbit. I imagine that third is my 13yo DD2 because she gave DD3 chocolate this afternoon. I'll be waaaaaaay down the list because I, unreasonably, wouldn't allow her to climb a rose bush.
The list will change. However, your wife's attitude to you being the disciplinarian may not help. Does she' discipline him at all or is she playing the role of disney parent? Does she back you up when you do discipline him?
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